by Angling Times |

My latest midweek practice day was originally intended to be all about catching roach on the River Trent at East Stoke.

I love this part of the Trent. You never quite know how the day is going to go, though… and this was most definitely one of those days!

I decided to have another 4am start in order to try and catch a few fish before the sun got too high in the sky. The recent weather has been great for suntans but it’s not been conducive to good river fishing, and very early or very late has definitely been the way to go since the season started.

The river was as low and clear as I’ve ever seen it in this area, so I settled in on a swim that had a decent pace and a gravel bottom. Roach love swims like this in the summer months and I was hoping to catch a decent bag on either Bolo or waggler tactics.

I set up two Daiwa Tournament RS 14F float rods with TDR 2508 reels and 4lb (0.16mm) Pro Float mainlines with 0.10mm Pro Rig hooklengths.

The swim was 8ft deep. On the first rod I set up one of my new 3g No6 Bolo floats shotted with a simple olivette and single No6 dropper arrangement. This shot was positioned around 8ins from the hook. The second rod had a 6AAA No1 Insert Truncheon waggler with five No6 shot down the line. The hook on both rigs was a prototype thin wire size 18.

I started by loosefeeding casters and hemp and caught a few roach and dace in the first two hours on both rigs. After hooking three barbel and getting the runaround from them on such light gear I decided a total kit change was in order, though!

I changed my rods to Tournament RS 14PF models with TDR 3012 reels and 6lb (0.20mm) mainlines tied direct to strong size 12 hooks. It was time to do battle!

On the one rod I set up a 4g No2 Bolo float with an olivette 18ins from the hook and no drop shot. On the other I set up a 6g No3 Bolo float, again with just an olivette and no dropper shot.

I prefer to have loose line beneath the olivette, as the hookbait is sufficiently heavy. It’s also easier to run these rigs through where there are deviations in the riverbed.

I stepped up the feed to a good pouchful of casters and hemp every cast and the next three hours were memorable, as another nine barbel up to 7lb took a liking to my double and triple caster hookbait offerings.

It’s certainly going to be an interesting area for competitors who draw this area in the forthcoming Division One National in August. Roach or barbel? The choice is yours!


  1. Use a powerful but forgiving rod.
  1. Use reel lines that can handle big fish. I use 6lb (0.20mm), 7lb (0.22mm), or 8lb (0.24mm) Pro Float.
  1. Use strong, sharp hooks and be prepared to change them straight away if they get blunted on rocks or gravel.
  1. Use No3 Bolo floats if there is decent flow. You can see these floats a long way down the river and the body shape is perfect to hold against.
  1. Don’t use dropper shot below the olivette.
  1. Play barbel with the rod held low. You will steer them in much faster this way than with your rod high.
  1. Don’t rush the netting operation. Barbel are never ready the first time they appear at the surface!
  1. Always put barbel back carefully. They fight hard and sometimes need a little time to recover if you are putting them straight back.
  1. If barbel are to be retained in a keepnet, be sure to use a big one and ensure there is plenty of room for fish to move inside.
  1. During low river times, floatfishing will often catch fish when static baits fail. Try it!
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